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Canadian Film Encyclopedia

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Hiawatha, The Messiah of the Ojibway

Year: 1903
Director: Joseph Rosenthal
Writer: E Armstrong
Cinematographer: Joseph Rosenthal
Production Company: Charles Urban Trading Company, Canadian Bioscope Company

The first film drama made in Canada (unfortunately lost), Hiawatha, The Messiah of the Ojibway was produced while Joe Rosenthal was in Canada photographing the Living Canada series. It was a dramatized presentation of Longfellow’s poem The Song of Hiawatha and was (as described in the Urban Trading catalogue) “enacted by North American Indians of the Ojibway tribe at Desbarats, Ontario.” It is evident from the nine-page description and several photographs in the Urban catalogue that the film was largely a photographed stage play, though set in natural locations.

By: Peter Morris